at Solway Gallery

Carl Fudge is a sly fellow. Just as you think you’ve caught the drift for one of his series works, either paintings or prints – ah yes, you think, look how this cluster balances that – he changes the color scheme for another version and all relationships shift gear. New game entirely.

Carl Solway Gallery is showing a selection of the work of British-born Fudge, who now lives and works in New York City, dating from 2000 to the present. The artist moves easily from acrylic paintings to screen prints as well showing here a single serigraph and one intensely colored Iris print with gold leaf. He is a meticulous craftsman, at ease in the digital wonders available to today’s practicing artists. Indeed, while the gallery lists as his sources 17th century Japanese woodcuts, contemporary Japanese animé, Andy Warhol’s camouflage paintings and the machine-age woodcuts of early 20th Century British artist Edward Wadsworth, the first thing many of the patterned works brought to my mind was a computer circuit board. Complexity enshrined.

Prime examples of the works that trigger that thought are three large paintings, each nearly seven feet high and exactly six feet wide, Overflow Silver Blue, Overflow Brown, and Overflow Silver, the first from 2004 and the other two 2005. They can be read from left to right, the blues from the first going brown in the second, picked out by hot pink, then everything calming down to white, black and silver in the third.

The visitor has been prepared for the Overflow series by works in the Corridor Gallery, entering the show. A trio of small square paintings, 34 inches to a side, also from 2005, are all titled Composition 8 but each is individualized by a listing in brackets of three prominent colors. The red, ochre and orange of the first becomes red, orange and pink in the second, with the reds and oranges changing places in the composition, and the third retaining pink albeit in new locations, while returning ochre to the mix and adding a rather surprising white. The visual pleasure in sorting all this out is considerable.
A series dated this year consists of seven fire-red and black paintings in the North Gallery. They produce an unsettling sense of flame-like movement despite patterned composition. Two are titled Blast; Townscape (60 x 53 inches) is distilled in Townscape 2 (34 x 30 inches). These recent works reflect the artist’s interest in Edward Wadsworth, who developed a distinctive camouflage for World War I British ships. Wadsworth was part of the brief but fiery British movement called Vorticism, which took off from Cubism and gave a particular edge to Britain’s art in the time of the first World War. Blast, in fact, was the name of the Vorticist literary magazine, published only twice but with Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot in its pages. Although these paintings all date from 2011, the screenprint in the same mode that hangs with them indicates the ideas have been brewing for Fudge for some time. Titled They’re Everywhere, the print is dated 2002.

This is a show rife with visual delights and intellectual rewards. It appears at Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay Street, through August 13, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Jane Durrell

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